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What Makes a Hero a Hero?

hero You’ve probably seen the photos and the news stories of the “miracle on the Hudson” Captain Chesley Sullenberger was able to save over 150 passengers by making an emergency landing on the Hudson River after both engines of his plane failed.

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He’s received accolades from across the country, including Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York and two Presidents – President Bush who was the President at the time this happened and now President Obama who invited Sully, as his friends call him, to the Inaugural Ceremony.

The story is fascinating. We heard over and over again how calm and collected he was. His coolness kept the passengers calm and collected too.

What makes someone a hero?

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission defines a hero as “a civilian who voluntarily risks his or her own life to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person.”

That definition fits the mission of their organization, but is it expansive enough?

We turned to Merriam Webster. Two of their definitions of a hero stand out:

  • a person admired for his or her noble achievements
  • someone who shows great courage

We crafted our own definition:

A hero is an ordinary person who does something
extraordinary for the good of someone else.

It is a gift, not a sacrifice (although it may involve sacrifice) in the mind of the hero. It is the opposite of narcissism, but it is definitely not martyrdom.

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3 steps to heroism

Do you want to be a hero? We thought about this and it seems to us that becoming a hero is a three-step process:

Heroism starts with an attitude
Almost all of us think we have a duty to prevent harm to others as long as it doesn’t cost us too much. A hero expands upon that attitude. They feel a duty to serve others – to do good – whether or not it costs them something. 

It continues with preparation
This sense of a bigger duty drives them to preparation. They have a drive to be ready when the time comes.

Going back to Sully … as the pilot of a plane, he knew at some point there might be a crisis. So he gave a great deal of his free time studying everything situation he might encounter. It was his duty to be as fully prepared as possible should a crisis arise.

It completes itself with an action
The act of a hero is the manifestation of an underlying attitude. The success of that act depends on the preparation for it.

Sully had to respond because it was his duty. But his response didn’t start when the birds knocked both engines out of his plane. It began years earlier when he began studying flying.

So when the situation arose, he was ready because he felt a sense of duty and he had prepared.

Heroes, heroes everywhere

Heroism doesn’t always show itself in actions that make the news. There are heroes all around us. That’s what we’re going to talk about in our next two posts. Next time, we’ll discuss the hero behind the hero.

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4 Secrets to Having All You Really Want

happiness Today we want to talk about the choices we make and the sacrifices that go along with them. Some people say that’s an outdated concept – choices and sacrifices. We disagree. As long as a person only has 24 hours in a day, trade-offs will continue to exist.

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We have a friend who was talking about the choice she and her husband made to have kids. She said that she really wanted to stay home with them when they were young. So she suspended her career which meant that less money for her family.

You can’t have it all, but you can have all you really want.

It starts with a realistic assessment. To continue with the choice about having kids, you may choose to have kids and continue working. But there are still trade-offs – not as much time with your spouse, money spent on child-care, and less sleep to name a few.

When faced with an important decision, ask yourself these two questions:

  • To get what you want, what will you have to give up?
  • Are you willing to do that?

These two questions help you weigh the relative importance of your options. They will also help you later – when the reality of what you sacrificed comes to fruition – you can remind yourself that you are doing what you want.

It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” all of the time.

It’s important to not under-estimate the sacrifices that will be necessary to make something happen. However, it’s also crucial to not over-estimate them. We have a tendency to look at things in an “all or nothing” manner.

Even major decisions, like having kids, often have phases. Our friend went back to work after her kids went to school. Then she and her family were able to live more comfortably.

Since then, she has continued working at her primary career, as has her husband, although they really want to own their own business. However, they’re postponing that until their youngest finishes college. They feel more comfortable with the security of two regular paychecks.

So to have all you really want, the key is to know what you really want.

That sounds so simple, but it isn’t with all the options we have presented to us. We came up with 4 secrets to finding what you really want:

Secret 1: Avoid the “grass is greener” syndrome.

If you’re not happy with your current situation, don’t just jump at something new. Make sure it’s really important to you and your long-term future. If you don’t do this, you may end up just as unhappy with a whole new commitment.

Secret 2: Make sure it’s really is your choice.
Sometimes we do things for the wrong reasons. It’s your time – you should choose how you spend it. Someone else may think it’s the best thing for you. Another person may want something for you that you don’t want for yourself. Choose to make your choices for your reasons.

Secret 3: Test it in advance if you can.

If there’s a way to “dip your toes in the water,” by all means do it! For example, if you’re considering a career change, you might do similar work on a volunteer basis for your favorite charity. Or see if you can “shadow” someone as they do that job you think you want.

If your career change requires going back to school, start off with one class to see if you really do like it. Back to our original example – having kids – offer to babysit for a weekend for a friend or a relative. If you’re still as excited at the end of the weekend as you were at the beginning, you might be ready!

Secret 4: Once you’ve decided, focus on what can be, not what might have been.

Once you’ve made your decision, put all your energy into making it work for you. Don’t keep thinking about what you gave up. That’s a recipe for being miserable. Instead, focus on what you have now by choosing this path.

You can’t have it all, but you can have all you really want. Decide what that is and go for it!

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You made a choice to read our post today and we thank you so much. Join us next time when we talk with a college graduate whose search for the American dream led him to a homeless shelter. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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